How to Downsize Your PA System Without Losing Power

by Andrew Bishop

Top Tips on How To Downsize Your PA System Without Losing Power.

The worst things about playing solo, duo, in a live band or being a DJ are:

  • Emptying the van or car of all your day job gear
  • Hauling your equipment out of storage
  • Loading the van or car (dropping the seats) with speakers and amplifiers
  • Unloading the van or car at the gig, setting up then playing
  • Reversing the process!
  • In Bed for 2 am – with luck!

These days solo acts are getting more bookings than bands due to social distancing so compact is the key to success.

Today you can get a 4,000-Watt active PA system in the boot of a hatchback car! Enough sound for an audience of over 750 people.

Today compact gigs matter and you can get a big sound from an active box with all the mixing and Bluetooth built in. Backing tracks have never been easier to play and are essential when social distanced gigs are needed.

The right equipment is crucial to being able to put on a professional gig the more you perform the more PA you tend to acquire and then must haul to and from your gigs.

Too many speakers are a problem that can quickly get out of hand and can leave you and your audience feeling overwhelmed especially when today customers want “quality sound” and do not want their heads knocked off. Remember 120 db is the equivalent of standing next to a jet taking off!

One of the first live gigs for the Rolling Stones at Eltham Swimming baths was with a 100-watt valve PA amplifier and 2 twin 12” speakers. Time have changed.

Top Five Tips on Downsizing Your PA:

  1. Passive speakers today are lighter and more efficient than many active speakers. Class-D 4,000 watt amplifier is 1u and weighs only 4kg.
  2. To save carrying power amplifiers and processors consider active speakers as with today’s technology they are packed with features like Bluetooth and run cool delivering great reliability and performance.
  3. Do not go too small! Avoid 3” column speakers on subs unless as you get no lower mid-range. Highly processed strings of 3” drivers physically struggle to deal with the mid-range and leave you with a Bass and Top American sound. After all early FM battery radios housed these drivers! Column speakers are for the spoken word and belong on the wall in churches and museums.
  4. Save money sell your van and use your hatchback. Reduce the weight and use your hatchback to carry enough sound an audience of 750+ people for 2 x 12” Orion speakers and 2 x 15” compact super subs.
  5. Apply the 80/20 rule. 80% of your gigs will need 20% of your PA. Profit from a gig is sanity huge unnecessary PA stacked to the roof is vanity.

If you are still wondering if downsizing your PA rig is the right thing to do, contact  Andrew Bishop via our enquiry form, live chat or email directly at Andrew has 40 years experience gigging and making speakers and can answer your pro-audio questions.